Snoring happens when airflow in the upper airway becomes restricted during sleep. This causes the surrounding tissue, such as the uvula and soft palate, to flutter. And the result is that all-too-familiar sound, which can range in loudness from barely audible to so disruptive it keeps the whole house awake.
If your (or your partner’s) snoring has recently become noticeably louder, you’re probably wondering whether you have any reason to worry. Maybe this change in pitch is your wake-up call.
What Causes Loud Snoring?
All snoring is the result of our bodies fighting for breath during sleep because the muscles of the upper airway become so relaxed they block airflow. The greater the blockage, the more forceful and louder the snore.
While almost everyone snores loudly now and then, frequent loud snoring can be the first sign of developing or worsening sleep apnea. In case you’re not familiar: sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder in which the upper airways become blocked during sleep, leading to pauses in breathing.
There’s a scale used to measure the severity of sleep apnea called the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI). Studies show that AHI is correlated with snoring intensity. In other words, there’s clear evidence that the louder you snore, the worse your sleep apnea.
Why Loud Snoring Can Be a Bad Sign
Because loud snoring can indicate severe sleep apnea, you may be at greater risk of health problems associated with this illness if you snore loudly.
That’s because sleep apnea causes disrupted sleep and lower-than-normal blood oxygen levels. A lack of restful sleep in itself results in physical and mental consequences that can affect the whole body. Untreated, it places great strain on your health, putting you at greater risk for:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Weight gain
However, snoring not due to sleep apnea — called primary snoring — shouldn’t be overlooked either. Not only can this type of “benign” snoring disrupt your bed partner’s sleep, but recent research shows it could lead to carotid disease. This disease is characterized by a narrowing of the carotid arteries located in the neck, putting you at risk of stroke.
What to Do About Loud Snoring
Most snoring is easy to control with simple snoring solutions. If you’ve noticed that your partner’s snoring has become disruptively loud — or if you’ve been accused of the same — consider doing the following:
Snoring and sleep apnea are more common in people who are overweight. That’s because extra body fat in the neck can narrow the airways. However, not all snorers are necessarily overweight.
Change your sleeping position
Snoring is loudest in the supine position. Sleeping on your side could make your snoring less loud. While it is hard, training yourself to change your sleeping position is possible.
Avoid sedatives before bed
Alcohol, muscle relaxant, and anxiolytics can all lead to loud snoring in habitual snorers. If possible, take your medication at other times of the day and avoid drinking before hitting the sack.
Treat nasal blockages
Allergies, upper respiratory infections, smoking, and a deviated septum can all make it difficult for you to breathe through your nose. Address these issues if they’re a primary cause of your snoring, i.e. by ceasing smoking, using decongestants, or investing in an air humidifier.
Try snoring mouthpieces
Snoring mouthpieces include mandibular advancement devices (MADs) and tongue stabilizing devices (TSDs). We recommend trying our FDA-cleared Good Morning Snore Solution mouthpieces. These are TSDs that have been clinically tested for safety and efficiency, and they work by preventing your tongue from blocking your airways.
Just one caveat: if your loud snoring is accompanied by severe symptoms, such as daytime sleepiness, waking up a lot, gasping or choking at night, and morning headaches, it’s a good idea to speak to your medical provider. These could be signs of severe sleep apnea that require professional care.
Occasional loud snoring is most likely benign. Frequent and habitual loud snoring, on the other hand, needs to be addressed.
Loud snoring is a hallmark symptom of sleep apnea, a serious medical condition linked to a host of health problems. Untreated, it can result in cardiovascular disease, depression, and diabetes, among other problems. And if your loud snoring is accompanied by other symptoms, definitely speak to your doctor to get a proper diagnosis and adequate treatment.
Otherwise, you may be able to treat your loud snoring with at-home-methods, such as weight reduction, change in sleep position, and snoring mouthpieces.